Charlotte, N.C. • He saw Randy Foye walk toward him and, as if Kevin Murphy was never been gone at all, he stuck out his hands to carry the veteran Jazz guard's green and yellow sneakers.
Yes, the rookie is back.
Murphy returned to the Jazz early Wednesday after spending the last six weeks with the Reno Bighorns in the D-League. However, injuries to Mo Williams and Marvin Williams depleted the Jazz's perimeter game, the team recalled Murphy, whose contract became guaranteed for the season on Monday.
"I thought he did a great job down in Reno," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Growing his game, getting an opportunity to play on the floor."
The Jazz sent Murphy to the D-League on Nov. 26 with a list of goals, including becoming a better team player and getting better on defense.
Murphy rejoined the Jazz one day before the team travels to Atlanta, the former Tenessee Tech star's hometown.
"It's perfect timing," Murphy said. "All my family and friends was asking me would I be back in time and I'm just saying I don't know. I'm going to wait it out."
He said his wife and infant son, Kevin Jr., were visiting him in Reno when he was recalled by the Jazz and that they traveled to Atlanta on Tuesday.
Murphy averaged 13.3 points per game with the Bighorns, and said he enjoyed having the "opportunity to just play about 30 minutes a game, get into the game flow, just play basketball."
Corbin credited the D-League from earlier days, when players - he named C.J. Miles - took an assignment as an insult.
"Guys had a tendency to think that's a demotion," Corbin said, "and not an opportunity to work on their game, just to play games, work on their game. Over the years, I think it has progressed to being an opportunity just for that."
However, that doesn't mean that Murphy wasn't grateful to return to the glamorous world of the NBA, even if it means carrying a pair of sneakers.
He called the D-League experience "very humbling."
"Everything wasn't given to you like it is up here," he said. "I think it was a good experience for me just to go down there and work hard, keep working, no matter what the conditions was down there."
— Bill Oram